No Matthew Stafford TD? A Cooper Kupp rushing TD? Rams win a weird one vs. Cardinals
GLENDALE, Ariz. — In the immediate aftermath, the Rams did not struggle to find accurately descriptive words.
They knew their 20-12 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at State Farm Stadium lacked panache. Highlight-reel plays were far from aplenty.
It amounted to a dull — though victorious — display in the desert.
Not that the Rams were complaining. Not after winning the NFC West opener and improving their record to 2-1.
“A strange game,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford concurred.
“Definitely a weird flow to it,” he said.
No argument from safety Nick Scott.
“A little weird per se,” Scott said.
Rams hold on to defeat Cardinals on the road
FINAL — Rams 20, Cardinals 12
The Rams picked up an important early-season NFC West road win Sunday, defeating the Arizona Cardinals.
Matthew Stafford completed 18 of 25 passes for 249 yards and Ben Skowronek finished with four catches and 66 yards. Cam Akers rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown in 12 carries.
Matt Prater kicked a 31-yard field goal with just over a minute left in regulation, but the Cardinals failed to recover the onside kick, cementing the Rams’ victory.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray completed 37 of 58 passes for 314 yards. Arizona wide receiver Marquise Brown had 14 catches for 140 yards.
L.A. improves to 2-1 and the Cardinals fall to 1-2.
Cam Akers touchdown extends Rams’ lead late in third quarter
🏈 Rams 20, Cardinals 9 — 1:07 third quarter
After the Rams’ seasons-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills, Rams coach Sean McVay said he wanted running back Cam Akers to play with more urgency.
Akers improved in a victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and in third quarter against the Cardinals, he began to break out.
Akers carried the ball six times during an eight-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Akers has gained 52 yards in eight carries.
Matthew Stafford set up the drive by spinning out of a would-be sack and completing a pass to Cooper Kupp.
Cardinals kick another field goal to edge closer to Rams
🏈 Rams 13, Cardinals 9 — 5:10 left in the third quarter
Matt Prater kicked a 49-yard field goal to cap a 16-play, 58-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes 37 seconds.
The Rams started the second half by going three and out for third time in a row.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray methodically moved his team with short passes and runs by James Conner.
Murray has completed 23 of 36 passes for 201 yards.
Rams hold 13-6 lead over Cardinals at halftime
🏈 Rams 13, Cardinals 6 — halftime
The Rams appeared to be in control early, but the offense stalled for most of the second quarter and the Cardinals kicked two field goals to keep it close.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 11 of 17 passes for 140 yards.
Kupp has three catches for 33 yards, and he scored on a 20-yard run.
The Rams limited the Cardinals to 22 net yards through one-plus quarters before Kyler Murray led his team on a 70-play drive that consumed 9 minutes 30 seconds and ended with a field goal by Matt Prater.
The Rams went three and out, and Murray engineered a 47-yard drive in the final 48 seconds, which Prater capped with a 43-yard field goal.
Murray has completed 17 of 28 passes for 169 yards.
Marquise Brown has eight catches for 67 yards.
Cardinals get onto the scoreboard with field goal
🏈 Rams 13, Cardinals 3 — 1:54 second quarter
Matt Prater kicked a 24-yard field goal, cutting the Rams’ lead to 10 points.
The Cardinals used 9 minutes and 30 seconds during a drive that included two conversions on fourth down.
The Cardinals had first and goal at the four-yard line, but the Rams dropped running back James Conner for a loss after he took a direct snap, and quarterback Kyler Murray’s next two passes fell incomplete.
Matt Gay kicks another field goal for Rams
🏈 Rams 13, Cardinals 0 — 13:23 second quarter
Matt Gay kicked a 40-yard field goal as the Rams continue to build their lead.
Matthew Stafford completed a 28-yard pass to tight end Kendall Blanton and a 26-yard pass to receiver Ben Skowronek to set up the field goal.
Blanton signed with the Rams this week after Bryce Hopkins was suspended for three games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Blanton originally signed with the Rams in 2019 as an undrafted free agent. Last season, he was a key player during the Rams’ postseason run to a Super Bowl title.
The Rams cut Blanton at the end of training camp. He signed with the Washington Commanders but was released and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad before the Rams brought him back.
Rams star Aaron Donald picks up his 100th career sack
🏈 Rams 10, Cardinals 0 — 2:42 first quarter
Aaron Donald recorded his 100th career sack when he took down Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray for a 15-yard loss with 2:42 left in the first quarter.
It was the second sack of the season for Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year and one of the most dominant interior defensive linemen in league history.
The NFL did not make sacks an official statistic until 1982. Former Buffalo defensive end Bruce Smith is the all-time leader with 200. Donald is now tied with Andre Tippett at No. 39 on a list dominated almost exclusively by defensive ends and outside linebackers.
By the count of Profootballreference.com, which tabulated sacks since 1960 and includes Rams legends such as Deacon Jones (173½ sacks) and Jack Youngblood (151½) among the top six, Donald now ranks 59th in a tie with Tippett and Alex Karras.
Von Miller (117½), Chandler Jones (107½), Cameron Jordan (107), Justin Houston (103), J.J. Watt (102) and Robert Quinn (101) are active players with 100 sacks or more. All are defensive ends or linebackers.
Cooper Kupp scores on 20-yard TD to extend Rams’ lead
🏈 Rams 10, Cardinals 0 — 4:00 left in the first quarter
Rams receiver Cooper Kupp can do more than catch passes.
Kupp, the reigning NFL offensive player of the year, took a handoff on a jet sweep and scored on a 20-yard touchdown run.
The play completed a 58-yard, seven-play drive.
Kupp has three catches for 34 yards.
Matt Gay field goal gives Rams early 3-0 lead
🏈 Rams 3, Cardinals 0 — 9:45 left in the first quarter
Matt Gay kicked a 22-yard field goal to give the Rams the early lead, but the Rams missed an opportunity.
Michael Hoecht blocked a punt that gave the Rams the ball at the Cardinals’ 35-yard line.
Matthew Stafford completed four passes as the Rams moved to a first-and-goal at the four yard-line.
But a shovel pass to Brandon Powell netted zero yards and Stafford misfired on two passes to Allen Robinson, forcing the Rams to settle for the field goal.
Why Rams coach Sean McVay aggressively intercepts Matthew Stafford’s turnovers
It’s not a problem for Rams coach Sean McVay.
Not yet anyway. Maybe ever.
Two games into the season, Matthew Stafford is right where he was at the end of the 2021 regular season: No. 1 in the NFL in most passes intercepted.
Stafford goes into Sunday’s NFC West opener against the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) having had five passes intercepted — three in a season-opening rout by the Buffalo Bills and two in last Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“You want to have those at a minimum,” McVay said Wednesday, “but I also want to make sure that it’s a fine line between not allowing him to compete at a high level. Where we want to be smart but aggressive.”
Rams lose only backup tight end, Brycen Hopkins, to three-game suspension
Hopkins, a third-year pro, cannot return to the active roster until after the Rams’ Oct. 9 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Hopkins, a fourth-round draft pick in 2020 from Purdue, was inactive for much of his first two seasons but stepped up with a dynamic performance in the Super Bowl. His development led to the Rams carrying only two tight ends on their 53-man roster, veteran Tyler Higbee and Hopkins.
Hopkins was in for four plays on offense in a season-opening defeat to the Buffalo Bills and four plays in last Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He has not been targeted in the passing game.
As injuries mount, meet the newest Rams ... who used to be Rams
As they prepare for their NFC West opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams on Thursday continued making moves to fortify a roster depleted by injuries and a suspension.
A day after signing edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, the Rams signed tight end Kendall Blanton and defensive back Shaun Jolly to the roster and veteran running back Malcolm Brown to the practice squad.
Blanton and Brown have history with the Rams. Brown played for the team from 2015 to 2020, and Blanton from 2019 to 2021.
Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals matchups, how to watch and prediction
Breaking down how the Rams (1-1) and the Arizona Cardinals (1-1) match up heading into their game at 1:25 p.m. PDT on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The game will be shown on Fox and streamed on the Fox Sports app and NFL+.
When Rams have the ball: Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns in a 31-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons but enters this game having had five passes intercepted in two games — most in the NFL. The Rams are still without receiver Van Jefferson, so Stafford will continue to rely on star receiver Cooper Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee and receiver Allen Robinson.
Sean McVay’s Rams have dominated the Cardinals. Will the trend continue?
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The situation is different, some circumstances concerningly similar.
Last season, the Rams traveled to State Farm Stadium for a late-season game against the Arizona Cardinals with a lineup ravaged by COVID-19, a scenario exasperated when star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee were declared out hours before kickoff.
The Rams still rallied and won, helping propel them on their run to a Super Bowl title.
On Sunday, the Rams return for an early-season NFC West opener with a roster depleted this week by injuries and a suspension.
“It almost feels like COVID-esque,” Rams coach Sean McVay said.
Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: Betting odds, lines, picks and predictions
Both Los Angeles teams head into Week 3 with 1-1 records and a good opportunity to get on the plus side of .500. The Rams are 3½- or 4-point favorites against the Cardinals heading into the first of six games against NFC West opponents.
Two weeks into the season, we’ve seen big upsets, surprising 2-0 teams, unsurprising 0-2 teams and a lot of sloppy football with few teams taking the preseason seriously. The more games we get, the more everything should settle in, hopefully leading to a little more predictability for bettors.